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A high-quality chef’s knife is a must-have tool for every home cook. It’s considered the workhorse of kitchen knives because you can use it for everything—slicing meat, chopping vegetables, mincing herbs—you name it.
You can spend a small fortune on a high-end chef’s knife; however, if you do your research, you can find plenty of quality options from well-known brands for less than $100.
If you’re in the market for a new chef’s knife and you’re looking to find the best one for your money, keep reading.
In this article, I provide in-depth reviews of the five best chef’s knives that you can buy for under $100. I cover all aspects of each knife, including the materials, design, sharpness, durability, size/weight, price, warranty, and much more.
You’ll learn exactly why each of these five knives made this list and how they compare to each other. By the end, you’ll have all the critical information you need to decide which one is best for you.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Use the links below to navigate the article.
- Best Chef’s Knife Under $100: 30-Second Summary
- Side-By-Side Comparison Chart
- Best Overall
- Overall Runner Up
- Best Japanese Style
- Japanese Style Runner Up
- Best Value
- Final Thoughts: Which Chef’s Knife Should You Choose?
A great chef’s knife is well-balanced, sharp, comfortable in your hand, and built to last. The five chef’s knives that I feature in this article have all of those characteristics, plus they all cost less than $100.
Although they’re all excellent chef’s knives, no product is perfect. They each have pros and cons that you need to understand before you buy.
If you only have a minute and you’re trying to quickly understand which chef’s knife under $100 is the best for you, here’s what you need to know.
- Best Overall: Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Chef’s Knife (view on Amazon)
- Pros: High-quality materials, extremely durable, comfortable handle, classic Western chef’s knife design, comes with a 3.5-inch paring knife.
- Cons: The blade is only 6-inches, some customers claim it loses its edge quickly, it’s usually the most expensive knife on this list (depends on retailer).
- Jump to full detailed review.
- Overall Runner Up: Wusthof Grand Prix II 6-inch Chef’s Knife (view on Amazon)
- Pros: Thick blade, well-balanced, durable, comfortable, and elegantly designed handle.
- Cons: The blade is only 6-inches, too heavy, handle material is slightly less durable compared to the Wusthof Classic.
- Jump to full detailed review.
- Best Japanese Style: Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (view on Amazon)
- Pros: Hand-crafted, stays sharp, gorgeous, and functional blade design, lightweight, free mail-in sharpening.
- Cons: Too lightweight, the blade is too thin, feels fragile, the blade could detach from the handle.
- Jump to full detailed review.
- Japanese Style Runner Up: Global G-Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife (view on Amazon)
- Pros: Unique stainless steel handle, lightweight, extremely durable.
- Cons: Needs frequent sharpening, the handle is too small, too lightweight.
- Jump to full detailed review.
- Best Value: J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (view on Amazon)
- Pros: Very affordable, high-quality materials, sturdy and durable.
- Cons: Food sticks to the blade, needs frequent sharpening, inconsistent quality (some say too sharp, others say too dull), spine is too thin.
- Jump to full detailed review.
(Click to expand the details)
|What It Looks Like||Rank||Brand/Knife||Where It's Made||Blade Material||Handle Material||Blade Length||Handle Length||Weight||Edge Angle||Blade Hardness||Bolster||Tang||Cleaning||Price||View on Amazon|
|Best Overall||Wüsthof Classic||Germany||High-carbon stainless steel||Polyoxymethylene||6"||5"||5.8 oz.||28 degrees||58||Full||Full, exposed||Hand-wash||Amazon|
|Runner Up||Wüsthof Grand Prix II||Germany||High-carbon stainless steel||Polyoxymethylene||6"||5"||8 oz.||28 degrees||58||Full||Full||Hand-wash||Amazon|
|Best Japanese-Style||Shun Sora||Japan||VG10 Stainless Steel||Textured Polymer Blend||8"||6"||6.8 oz.||32 degrees||61||Welded composite||Full rabbeted||Hand-wash||Amazon|
|Japanese-Style Runner Up||Global Classic||Japan||Cromova 18 steel||Stainless Steel||7"||4.5"||6 oz.||30 degrees||56 to 58||No bolster||No tang||Hand-wash||Amazon|
|Best Value||Zwilling J.A. Henckels International Classic||Spain||High-carbon stainless steel||Polypropylene||8"||5"||8.5 oz.||30 degrees||57 to 58||Full||Full, exposed||Hand-wash||Amazon|
The best overall chef’s knife for under $100 is the Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Chef’s Knife (see on Amazon).
Its blade is made with high-carbon stainless steel that’s hard, durable, and holds its razor-sharp edge significantly longer than the competition. Its triple-riveted handle is made from an ultra-durable material called polyoxymethylene (POM), and it’s designed with smooth curves and a lip toward the butt end to fit comfortably in your hand. Best of all, this 6-inch chef’s knife also comes with a 3.5-inch paring knife, both for under $100.
If you’re not familiar with Wusthof, they’ve been in business for over 200 years and are currently one of the most well-renowned knife makers in the world. Over the years, they’ve continuously improved their materials, design, and manufacturing process to produce the highest-quality kitchen knives possible. If you’re looking for a high-performing Western-style chef’s knife from a trusted brand that’s walked the walk for centuries, this is the one for you.
Where It’s Made: All Wusthof forged knives, including this one, are made in Solingen, Germany, through a 40-step process in which they are heat-molded from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel.
Over 300 skilled craftsmen are involved in the process from start to finish with the help of custom-built machinery and technology.
Wusthof recently invented a new process called PEtec (Precision Edge Technology) to sharpen their edges with lasers, computers, robots, and special polishing discs. The result of all this is an incredibly sharp, long-lasting edge and exceptional cutting performance.
Blade Material: The blade of this knife is made out of high-carbon stainless steel. This steel is commonly used by other German manufacturers such as Zwilling, and, because of that, it’s sometimes referred to as German Stainless Steel.
The scientific term for this steel is X50 CR MO V15, which is a blend of stainless steel, carbon (.5%) for hardness, chromium for stain resistance, molybdenum for corrosion resistance, and vanadium for hardness and durability. This particular blend is ideal for kitchen knives because it’s hard, durable, and resistant to stain and corrosion.
Handle Material: As I covered in a recent post comparing Wusthof’s Classic and Ikon collections, Wusthof Classic handles are made of a synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM). POM has a tight molecular structure, which makes it ultra-durable with excellent stability. It’s resistant to discoloration and fading and can endure frequent exposure to high temperatures and water.
Blade Design: This knife’s blade has a classic Western-style profile with smooth curves on both the belly side (edge) and spine (top side) that come to a sharp point at the tip. The blade features a full bolster, which is the thick part of the steel where the blade and handle meet. The bolster adds weight and balance and serves as a finger guard protecting your hand from slipping onto the blade.
Handle Design: Its handle is connected to a full tang (the tang is the part of the blade that runs through the middle of the handle) by three stainless steel rivets. The tang is visible on the top and bottom sides of the handle, which adds a beautiful design element.
The handle is contoured with a sharp curve towards the butt end to support your pinky and provide leverage while your chopping. The POM part of the handle is black with a matte finish—a very appealing aesthetic for any style kitchen.
Size: The blade is 6 inches long with a 5-inch handle. Its total weight is 5.8 ounces, so it has some heft and feels durable and balanced when you pick it up.
Wusthof sells its Classic chef’s knives with 7, 8, 9, 10, and even 14-inch blades, but as length increases, so does price. In my opinion, 6 inches is the perfect blade size for an everyday chef’s knife. Some people argue that 8-inches are better since you can get more out of each cut with a longer blade. In my opinion, a 6-inch blade is long enough, more comfortable to handle, more nimble, and provides more control.
Edge Angle: Wusthof cuts all of their forged knives, including this one, at a 14-degree angle on each side for a total angle of 28 degrees.
Kitchen knives are typically sharpened between 14 and 20 degrees per side—the smaller the angle, the sharper the edge. Wusthof blades are significantly sharper than most other brands. The advantage is obvious; however, the downside is that sharper edges tend to be less durable and more prone to chipping.
Fortunately, with Wusthof, you get the best of both worlds. Their knives are incredibly sharp and durable because of the unique blend of steel they use for their blades and their proprietary PEtec manufacturing process.
Blade Hardness: This knife has a Rockwell Hardness score of 58, which is considered ideal for a chef’s knife. If the blade is too hard, it becomes more likely to chip. If it’s too soft, it won’t hold its edge and will quickly become dull. Fortunately, Wusthof has mastered this balance and produces its blades with just the right hardness.
Cleaning: You can wash this knife in the dishwasher; however, Wusthof strongly suggests that you don’t. Harsh chemicals in dish detergent can fade the handle. Also, the edge can get damaged if it comes into contact with other utensils during a wash. Instead, wash it by hand with gentle soap and water then dry it thoroughly.
Warranty: Wusthof offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all their products. Their warranty protects against defects in materials and craftsmanship. It does not protect against normal wear and tear, and the warranty is voided if you damage your knife while misusing it.
Price: The price of this knife varies based on where you buy, but it’s always less than $100. To get the best deal, purchase the combo set on Amazon, which includes the 6-inch chef’s knife plus the 3.5-inch paring knife.
What I Love About This Knife
There are so many things to love about this knife, but these are the features that stand out the most:
- It’s made with high-quality materials, so you know you’re getting a great product that will last.
- Its triple-riveted handle is exceptionally comfortable and feels secure in your hand.
- It’s heavy, sturdy, and well-balanced due to its thick bolster and full tang.
- It’s incredibly sharp (28-degree angle) and holds its edge significantly longer than the competition, so you don’t need to sharpen it as often.
- The combo set comes with a paring knife as a bonus, both for under $100.
- It’s part of Wusthof’s most popular and best-selling collection, the Classic.
Simply put, it’s a very well-rounded knife with excellent features and no significant flaws.
What Others Are Saying
Despite all my praise, I have to admit, no product is perfect, and this knife is no exception. Although it gets nearly perfect reviews, you can’t please everyone.
The most common complaints about this knife are that the edge loses its sharpness after a few months, it’s too expensive (then why did you buy it?), the 6-inch blade is too small, or it’s too heavy.
All of these are valid concerns, but the price is the price, so if you think it’s too expensive, don’t buy it, I prefer 6-inches over 8-inches, and I prefer a more substantial knife because it feels more durable. Edge retention is entirely dependent on how you use your knife and what types of food you cut. Every knife, no matter what, will dull over time. A simple solution is to pick up a cheap hand-held sharpener and run the blade through it any time it starts to feel dull.
If you’re looking for a chef’s knife for under $100, the best one you can buy is the Wusthof Classic 6-inch Chef’s Knife.
Besides all the reasons I stated above, the Classic collection is Wusthof’s bestseller, so if you enjoy this chef’s knife, you can build on it with other great knives from the same collection like a Classic Santoku knife.
If you’re okay replacing your knives every few years, there are cheaper brands you can buy; but spending a little more for a Wusthof knife is worth it in the long run since it’ll last for decades.
Bottom line—if you’re looking for a well-rounded, everyday, workhorse chef’s knife, this is the one to buy. You can get it on Amazon or in-store at places like Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma.
If you’re seriously considering investing in Wusthof Classic knives like this one, you need to check out my in-depth review of the entire line.
If you’re sold on all the excellent characteristics of the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife but prefer a different style handle, the Wusthof Grand Prix II 6-inch Chef’s Knife (see on Amazon) is a fantastic option.
This knife is the second-best chef’s knife under $100 because it has the same great features as the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife (German stainless steel, 28-degree edge angle, full bolster, full tang, etc.) with a few updates. The handle is made out of a slightly different material, the handle is rounder with smoother curves, and it doesn’t come with a paring knife.
Where Its Made: Like the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife, this one is also made in Solingen, Germany.
Blade Material: Its blade is made out of the same high-carbon German stainless steel as the Wusthof Classic (X50 CR MO V15).
Handle Material: The handle is made out of a synthetic material called polypropylene. Like POM, which is the material Wusthof uses for the handles on their Classic collection, polypropylene is hard, dense, and heat/water-resistant. The difference between the two materials is that polypropylene weighs less, is slightly less durable, but it’s more economical.
Blade Design: The blade profile on this knife is almost the same as the Wusthof Classic. It has slight curves on both the belly and spine sides, and the surface of the blade is smooth. It features the same full bolster and tang as the Wusthof Classic, except the Grand Prix II tang is enclosed by the handle material.
Handle Design: The most significant difference between the Wusthof Grand Prix II and Wusthof Classic is the design of their handles. The Grand Prix II handle is more rounded compared to the Classic handle, which is flat on each side. It also has flatter curves and doesn’t have a steep curve at the butt end like the Classic.
Besides its shape, the GrandPrix II handle has a slight texture, which provides extra grip and a unique look. Lastly, the Grand Prix II chef’s knife has a stainless steel Wusthof logo embedded into the handle.
Size: The blade is 6 inches long, and the handle is 5 inches. The total weight is 8 ounces, so, like the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife, this one is heavy and feels sturdy in your hand.
Edge Angle: The edge is sharpened at a 14-degree angle per side for a total angle of 28 degrees.
Blade Hardness: This knife has a Rockwell Hardness score of 58, which is the perfect balance between durability and edge retention.
Cleaning: To avoid damage, Wusthof highly recommends that you wash this knife by hand and dry it immediately after washing.
Warranty: Like the Wusthof Classic Chef’s knife, the Grand Prix II comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty that covers defects in materials and craftsmanship.
Price: Grand Prix II is Wusthof’s entry-level collection and, with that, is typically their most affordable one. The cost of the 6-inch chef’s knife is always under $100, and you can sometimes find the 8-inch version for less than $100 too. It’s available in stores like Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrell, but the best deals are usually on Amazon.
What I Love About This Knife
I love this knife for the same reasons I love the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife. It’s made with high-quality materials. It’s thick, well-balanced, and durable. Its edge is super sharp, and its blade is tempered to the perfect hardness. The handle is comfortable and elegant and features Wusthof’s logo in stainless steel. It’s a well-rounded knife that will last a very long time, and you’ll enjoy using it every day.
There’s one reason why I rated this knife second and the Wusthof Classic first—the handle. I prefer the shape and feel of the Wusthof Classic handle over the Wusthof Grand Prix II. There’s nothing wrong with the Grand Prix II handle; it just wasn’t as comfortable to me. Also, I like the look of the Classic handle with its three rivets and exposed tang. I prefer the more traditional look of the Classic collection.
What Others Are Saying
A quick search for this knife on Amazon shows that almost 90% of customers rated it five stars, and barely anyone rated is below four stars. Most people rave about the quality, balance, and cutting ability. Others love the heft, durability, and full bolster.
The most common complaints are that it’s too heavy and that the material of the handle feels cheap. Although much less common, some customers complain that the full bolster adds unnecessary weight and gets in the way of performing the pinch grip.
Wusthof’s Grand Prix II 6-inch chef’s knife is durable, high-performing, and priced under $100. If you want all the benefits of Wusthof but prefer a more rounded and slightly textured handle, the Grand Prix II is the one to buy. You can buy the 6-inch version on Amazon for under $100.
So far, I’ve talked about two German, or Western, style knives. German knives have curved blade profiles, they’re thicker, heavier, and tend to be made with softer steel. Japanese style knives have a straighter edge, a thinner/lighter blade, and are made with harder steel. Japanese style knives tend to be more polarizing—you either love them or hate them.
If they appeal to you, the best Japanese chef’s knife for under $100 is the Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (see on Amazon).
It has a traditional Japanese blade profile which is straighter than German knives, and, because of that, it stays in contact with the cutting board for longer. Its blade has a polished mirror finish with a beautiful wavy pattern where its cutting core and upper blade meet.
If you’re not familiar, Shun is a brand owned by the KAI Group, which is a Japanese company that’s been making knives in Seki City, Japan, since 1908. Like Wusthof, Shun maintains the highest quality standards, and all of their knives, including the Shun Sora chef’s knife, are handcrafted through a 100-step process. When it comes to Japanese kitchen knives, Shun is one of the top brands on the market.
Where It’s Made: All Shun knives, including the Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, are made in Seki City, Japan. Unlike German knives that are forged out of a single piece of steel, Shun knives are constructed with two types of steel, one for the cutting edge and the other for the upper part of the blade. These two layers come together like puzzle pieces and are welded to form the entire blade. The reason they weld the two materials together is that each material has a different purpose. Speaking of materials…
Blade Material: Shun constructs its blade’s cutting edge with premium steel called VG10. VG10 is a blend that includes cobalt, which makes the steel harder and vanadium, which improves edge retention. They use Japanese 420J steel for the upper part of the blade. This type of steel is resistant to corrosion but won’t stay sharp, which is why Shun uses it on the upper part of the blade and not the edge.
Handle Material: The handle is made from a synthetic material called thermoplastic elastomer, or TPE. Similar to the material that Wusthof uses for their Classic and Grand Prix II handles, this material is dense, hard, durable, and easy to maintain.
Blade Design: If you buy a Japanese style knife like this one, one of the main reasons you buy it is for the design. The blade has a flat spine and slightly curved belly, which makes it easy to rock the blade back and forth. A shiny polished upper blade is paired with beautiful wavy design along the edge.
Unlike German knives, this knife has no bolster. Some people prefer a chef’s knife without a bolster because you can sharpen the edge from the tip to the heel, and you can cut with the entire blade. It also makes the knife lighter and easier to maneuver.
Handle Design: The handle has a traditional Japanese design with a relatively straight top side and a slight curve on the underside. The butt end finishes with a sharp angle and a stainless steel Shun logo, which adds a beautiful design element, similar to the Wusthof Grand Prix II. If you’re a fan of the traditional Japanese design, you’ll love the handle on this knife because it’s simple, comfortable, and elegant.
Size: The Shun Sora chef’s knife has an 8-inch blade and a 6-inch handle, so in total, it’s 3 inches longer than the Wusthof knives. It weighs 6.8 ounces.
Edge Angle: The edge is sharpened at a 16-degree angle per side for a total angle of 32 degrees.
Blade Hardness: This knife has a Rockwell Hardness score of 61, which makes its blade one of the hardest on the market. Harder steel can tolerate a sharper edge and retain it well, but it’s less durable and more likely to chip compared to softer steel.
Cleaning: Shun highly recommends that you hand wash this knife with gentle soap. Avoid soaps with citrus or bleach, and do not use gritty sponges or scouring pads. Never soak this knife for long periods and dry immediately after washing.
Warranty: This knife comes with Limited Lifetime Warranty that guarantees it against defects in materials or construction. Also, Shun will sharpen your knife for free for as long as you own it. You mail your knife back along with this quick form, and they will repair and sharpen it for free.
Price: It’s rare to find a high-quality 8-inch Japanese chef’s knife for under $100, and it’s even rarer to find one from a prestigious brand like Shun. Shun has over ten kitchen knife collections, and most of their chef’s knives run well over $100. The Shun Sora chef’s knife is less expensive because of its synthetic handle. Most of their other lines feature PakkaWood or Tagayasan wood handles that are a bit more expensive. Check out the current price of the Shun Sora 8-inch chef’s knife and read dozens of reviews on Amazon.
What I Love About This Knife
Although I prefer the design and construction of Western-style chef’s knives, if I were looking for a Japanese style knife, I’d buy the Shun Sora.
It’s hand made out of high-quality materials and has a beautiful, well-designed blade that makes everyday use easy and enjoyable. Since the blade is constructed with two different materials (VG10 steel for the cutting edge and Japanese steel for the upper), you get the best of both worlds—edge retention and durability. Not only that, but the wavy pattern on the blade is gorgeous and makes a statement.
For a 14-inch knife (8-inch blade and 6-inch handle), it’s exceptionally light at only 6.8 ounces, which makes it easy to use for long periods.
Unlike Western-style chef’s knives that have a curved belly and spine, the edge of this knife is straighter, similar to a Santoku knife, which makes it easier to rock back and forth.
Lastly, I love the fact that Shun will sharpen this knife for free for as long as you own it. After a few years of heavy use, a professional sharpening will restore the edge to its original state. Sure, you can sharpen it yourself, but you’ll get better results with a professional sharpening.
What Others Are Saying
Most customers love this knife for the same reasons I do—it’s made with excellent materials, has a beautiful and functional design, and it’s incredibly sharp. However, when looking at the negative reviews, a few themes emerge. The reviewers that rate this knife three stars or below complain that it’s too light, too thin, and feels fragile.
A few customers claim that the blade of their knife broke off from the handle. This is possible since this knife has a rabbeted tang (a.k.a. a push tang) instead of a standard full tang.
A full tang is when the blade extends through the entire length of the handle and is typically attached to the handle with rivets. A rabbeted tang is pushed into the handle, usually not the full length, and secured in place with adhesive. This type of tang allows Shun to save on costs but opens up the possibility the blade and handle could become separated (although this happening is very unlikely).
Shun is one of the top Japanese style kitchen knives makers in the world. The fact that they’ve been a market leader for decades speaks to the quality and performance of their knives.
If you’re seriously considering a Japanese style chef’s knife and your budget is $100, I would highly recommend the Shun Sora chef’s knife.
It’s made with the highest quality materials and features a traditional Japanese blade and handle design. Most Shun chef’s knives cost way more than $100, but this one is typically priced just under that amount. You can check out the current pricing and read dozen of other reviews on Amazon.
If you’re not a fan of the Shun Sora, the next best Japanese style chef’s knife for under $100 is the Global G-Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife (see on Amazon).
This knife is incredibly unique due to its stainless steel handle that makes the entire knife appear to be one piece of material. Despite its appearance, it’s a two-piece knife with the steel blade, and steel handle welded together. The inside of the handle is filled with sand, which provides balance while keeping the knife extremely lightweight. Small dimples on the stainless steel handle add grip and give it a distinct look.
Besides its unique design, the most significant difference between this knife and the Shun Sora is that the steel blade on this knife is much softer than Shun’s. Since Global’s steel is softer, it doesn’t hold its edge as well, but it’s more durable and can endure more abuse.
Global is a well-known Japanese knife maker that has been in business since 1985. Over the decades, they’ve built an excellent reputation for their quality, performance, unique design, and affordability. If you like their modern stainless steel design, the Global G-Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife is a great option.
Where It’s Made: All Global cutlery, including this knife, is manufactured in Niigata, Japan.
Blade Material: The blade is made out of a unique blend of steel that Global calls CROMOVA 18. They won’t reveal the exact blend, but we know it contains molybdenum, vanadium, and chromium for hardness, durability, and corrosion resistance.
Handle Material: The unique aspect of this knife is the material of its handle; stainless steel. Global counters the slickness of the steel with small dimples to prevent your hand from slipping. The dimples look like they might be filled with rubber or plastic, but it is just black paint. The inside of the handle is hollow, but they fill it with the perfect amount of sand to balance out the weight of the blade.
Blade Design: The profile of this knife’s blade is more similar to Wusthof than it is to Shun. It’s curved on the spine and belly with a smooth surface on both sides—no fancy wavy pattern like Shun. Similar to most Japanese style knives, the blade is very thin, and it does not have a bolster.
Handle Design: The handle is relatively straight with curved edges. As you move closer to the blade, the handle gets thinner and provides a nook to rest your index finger while chopping.
As I’ve mentioned before, the most notable aspect of this knife, and that’s the fact that the handle is stainless steel. Most chef’s knives have synthetic or wooden handles, but this one matches the look of the blade and makes the knife look like one piece.
Size: This knife has a 7-inch blade and a 4.5-inch handle. It weighs 6 ounces.
Edge Angle: The edge is sharpened at a 15-degree angle per side for a total angle of 30 degrees, which is right between Wusthof (28 degrees) and Shun (32 degrees).
Blade Hardness: The blade on this knife has a Rockwell Hardness score between 56 and 58, which makes it one of the softest on the market. Softer steel doesn’t tolerate or retain its edge as well, but it’s more durable and less likely to chip compared to harder steel. You’ll have to sharpen this knife more often, but it can handle a bit more abuse without chipping.
Cleaning: Similar to the Shun and Wusthof knives, avoid using the dishwasher and instead hand-wash with gentle soap and a soft sponge. Dry immediately after washing.
Warranty: Like the other knives I covered so far, this knife comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty that protects you against any defects in materials or craftsmanship. It doesn’t cover damage from misuse or accidents.
Price: The price of this knife is typically just shy of $100, but it entirely depends on where you buy it. Here’s the link to this knife on Amazon, where you can check out the current price.
What I Love About This Knife
The slick stainless steel handle and “one-piece” design may not be for everyone, but I love it. It incorporates elements of both traditional Japanese and Western-style knives while maintaining its modern look.
In terms of performance, its right up there with the Shun Sora knife. The blade isn’t as long, but, as I mentioned before, I like a shorter blade because it’s easier to maneuver.
Its softer steel makes it a great workhorse chef’s knife that you can use every day without worrying that it’ll break down.
What Others Are Saying
Most people that own this knife love it, as evidenced by the mostly four and 5-star reviews it receives on Amazon. They love how it’s comfortable, lightweight, and balanced. The design is unique and intriguing, which evokes questions and compliments from guests while entertaining. Most of all, they love its durability.
When researching the downsides of this knife, I found three common complaints; it doesn’t retain its sharp edge, the handle is too small, and it feels too lightweight. All three of these complaints are valid. Since the steel is softer than most knives, it won’t stay sharp for as long. Its handle is at least a half-inch shorter than most 7-inch chef’s knives, and it’s considerably lighter than most knives its size.
None of these characteristics are deal breakers for me, but they’re important to know as you compare your options.
The Global G-Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife is the second-best Japanese style chef’s knife you can buy within a $100 budget for several reasons. It’s made out of high-quality materials, it’s got a beautiful modern design, a sharp edge, and is more durable than most knives. Although it’s technically a Japanese knife, it’s blade profile is similar to Western knives.
The major downside is that it won’t hold its edge as long as the Shun Sora, which has a harder blade. It also has a smaller handle that might be too small if you have large hands.
All in all, it’s a solid knife at an affordable price. You can check it out and read many more reviews on Amazon.
If keeping the cost well below $100 is your main priority, the J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife (see on Amazon) is your best option.
Just like Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels is based out of Solingen, Germany, and is one of the top manufacturers of Western-style knives in the world. They’ve been in business since 1731. Almost all Zwilling J.A. Henckels cutlery is made in Germany; however, this knife is part of their International collection, which is made in Spain.
The International collection uses the same high-quality materials as other Zwilling knives produced in Germany, but it doesn’t go through the same manufacturing processes. One of those processes that it doesn’t go through is ice hardening, which aids in edge retention and durability.
Skipping those extra processes is what keeps the cost of this knife low. Despite that, this is an excellent knife that looks and feels almost identical to the Wusthof Classic chef’s knife. But does it stack up? Almost. Let’s dive into the details.
Where It’s Made: Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a German company and makes the majority of their knives in Germany; however, their International collections are made in other countries. This particular knife is part of the International Classic series of knives, which are made in Spain.
Blade Material: This knife’s blade is made out of the same high-carbon stainless steel as the Wusthof Classic and Grand Prix II chef’s knives; (X50 CR MO V15). It has the same blend of steel, carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium, so you get the same durability, hardness, and corrosion resistance.
Handle Material: This knife’s handle is made out of a synthetic material called polypropylene. If this material sounds familiar, it’s because its the same material used for the Wusthof Grand Prix II handle. There’s a reason Wusthof and Henckels use the same materials; they’re high-quality, durable, and well-suited for a workhorse chef’s knife.
Blade Design: The blade design is very similar to the Wusthof Classic. It has a Western-style profile with smooth curves on the belly and spine, although this knife has a more prominent curve on the edge side and a straighter spine. It has a full bolster that looks almost identical to the Wusthof Classic bolster, but the one on this knife curves straight down towards the cutting board while the Classic is slightly tilted.
One of the most concerning complaints about this knife is that the spine side of the blade is too thin, and some claim that it’s so thin that it actually cut their finger.
Handle Design: The similarities between this knife and the Wusthof Classic don’t stop at the handle. In fact, their handles are almost identical. They’re both triple-riveted with a fully exposed tang and a matte black finish. They have the same shape with a sharp curve at the butt end to support your pinky finger. The one difference is that corners of Wusthof handles are slightly rounded, and the ones on this knife are more squared. The difference is minor and barely noticeable.
Size: This knife has an 8-inch blade and a 5-inch handle. It weighs 8.5 ounces, so, as the two Wusthof chef’s knives on this list, this one is heavy and feels exceptionally sturdy when you hold it.
Edge Angle: This knife is sharpened at a 15-degree angle on each side for a total angle of 30 degrees. It has the same sharpness as the Global G-Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife; it’s slightly sharper than the Shun Sora Chef’s Knife, but not quite as sharp as the two Wusthof knives.
Blade Hardness: This knife has a Rockwell Hardness score between 57 and 58, which is pretty standard for German steel and is right in line with the hardness of Wusthof knives.
Cleaning: All high-quality knives should be washed by hand, and this one is no exception. Sure, you can throw it in the dishwasher if you’re feeling lazy, but you’ll risk damaging and dulling the edge if it comes in contact with other utensils.
Warranty: This knife comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty that, similar to every other knife on the list, protects you against defects in materials and craftsmanship but not against any damage resulting from misuse.
Price: If you want to spend the least amount of money and get the best value, this is the knife for you. It’s priced significantly lower than the other four knives on this list; however, the quality of materials and craftsmanship are right up there with the others. It’s rare to find a Zwilling J.A. Henckels chef’s knife for well under $100, but you get just that with this knife. Check the current price on Amazon.
What I Love About This Knife
The J.A. Henckels International Classic is a well-rounded chef’s knife for, in some cases, half the price of its direct competitors.
J.A. Henckels uses the same materials for the blade and handles as Wusthof does for their Grand Prix II chef’s knife. Its design is almost identical to the Wusthof Classic.
If you prefer a larger knife, this one has an 8-inch blade compared to the two Wusthofs, which have a 6-inch blade.
This knife is sharp, durable, has an extremely comfortable handle, and comes from a brand that has been doing it for centuries, literally.
What Others Are Saying
When you read through the hundreds of customer reviews for this knife, you’ll notice themes like “well-balanced,” “great value,” and “very sharp.” The vast majority of customers have nothing but great things to say.
On the other hand, this knife has its critics. When you take a close look at the negative reviews, you’ll notice a few common themes.
It requires frequent sharpening. This could be because it’s manufactured in Spain and doesn’t go through the same rigorous processes that most Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives made in Germany go through.
It doesn’t live up to the Zwilling J.A. Henckels quality standards. It seems like the quality is inconsistent. Some customers say it comes out of the box too sharp; others say it’s not sharp enough. Some customers say that the finish on the blade looks off, others say it’s okay. Even though the materials come from Germany, outsourcing the manufacturing and assembly to factories in Spain results in quality and consistency issues.
The most concerning complaint is that the spine (the top edge of the blade that faces the ceiling when you’re chopping) is super thin. So much so that a few customers reported that they cut their hand on it. It sounds to me like another quality control issue that J.A. Henckels needs to fix.
Lastly, food, especially protein, sticks to the blade.
The J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is a great chef’s knife if you’re looking to keep your budget well below $100. You get similar quality to the Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Grand Prix II knives for a little more than half the price.
The huge caveat is that this knife is manufactured in Spain, and the manufacturing process there isn’t the same as it is at their primary operations in Germany. The fact is, if this knife were made in Germany, it would likely cost double.
If the negative reviews about quality and inconsistency scare you, keep in mind that this knife comes with a warranty that protects you against the exact defects that you’re worried about. If you get a bad product, you can get it replaced free of charge. Sure, no one wants to deal with that hassle, but for the price tag on this knife, it might be worth the risk.
To check the current price and read the reviews I’ve referenced, check this knife out on Amazon.
Finding the right chef’s knife is no easy task. Finding a great one for under $100 is even more difficult.
My best advice is to prioritize the features that are most important to you, whether it’s price, size, style (Western vs. Japanese), design, brand, or something else. Once you decide what’s most important, use the facts in this article to narrow down your choices.
The truth is, you can’t go wrong with any of these five knives. They all have their pros and cons, but when you buy a knife made from a great brand like Wusthof, Shun, Global, or J.A. Henckels, you know you’re getting a quality product that will last for many years.
To learn more about each of these knives, check them out on Amazon at the links below:
- Best Overall: Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Overall Runner Up: Wusthof Grand Prix II 6-inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Japanese Style: Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Japanese Style Runner Up: Global G-Series 7-Inch Chef’s Knife
- Best Value: J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
If you have a little extra in your budget and are willing to pay slightly more than $100, some great options are the Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, the Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, or the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro “S” 8-Inch Chef’s Knife.
If you are looking for even more information about these great chef’s knives, I’ve recently published several articles comparing the top kitchen knife brands as well as the top collections within these brands. Check those comparisons out at the links below.
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon: What Are the Differences?
- Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet: Kitchen Knife Comparison (With Pictures)
- Wusthof vs. Global: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Shun vs. Wusthof: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Cutco vs. Wusthof: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro vs. Pro “S”: What’s the Difference?